One of the most common questions we get asked is are your essential oils therapeutic grade? And can you ingest them? Let’s first talk about what therapeutic grade means and how it came about. Only after we address this can we get in to the topic of ingesting essential oils. Our hope is to clear up any misconception of what the industry standards are for pure and high quality essential oils.
Anyone who uses essential oils knows that purity and quality is of the utmost importance. With all the choices available today, it can be hard to determine which companies offer the best quality of oils. Some companies have come up with some very creative marketing in an effort to set themselves apart and have been successful in doing so, convincing people that no other company is capable of reaching the level of purity that they have. Case in point, the term therapeutic grade. Sometime in the 1990’s this term started being used by a well-known essential oil company and others quickly caught on and started using the term as well. They printed it on their labels, so obviously it must be true, right? They further went on to use the phrases FDA approved and Certified FDA approved. In a warning letter sent to one of these companies from the FDA, they stated:
The therapeutic claims establish that these products are drugs because they are intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease. The intended use of a product may be determined by, among other things, its labeling, advertising, and the circumstances surrounding its distribution, 21 C.F.R. § 201.128. As described below, the marketing of your dōTERRA Essential Oil products with drug claims and without FDA approved-applications is in violation the Act.
The letter can be found in its entirety here: https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2014/ucm415809.htm
The truth is, pure, unadulterated essential oils are therapeutic by nature. The chemical constituents that make up the essential oil is what enhances their therapeutic properties. People have used medicinal plants, flowers, roots and other plant material since the beginning of time! So, yes, essential oils can have therapeutic properties but there is no grading scale for them. Only GC-MS testing can show chemical constituents and percentages of each constituent, thereby being a pretty good indication of purity. Therefore, purity = high quality = therapeutic properties are present.
Now, about ingesting essential oils. This is another topic that has a lot of opinions around it and depending on who you talk to, coincides with the therapeutic grade conversation. Claims are made that if an essential is not therapeutic grade then it is not safe to ingest. So if therapeutic grade is not a real standard, then how do we address consuming essential oils safely?
According to the FDA, a dietary supplement or drug is defined, among other things, as a product intended for ingestion. Topical products are not intended for ingestion and are not considered dietary supplements. Essential oils are intended for topical application and only when properly diluted. Topical application is a very effective means of absorption, as the essential oil penetrates the skin and enters the bloodstream.
Some companies claim that drinking a drop of essential oil in a glass of water is good for you. A single drop of essential oil is a highly concentrated, fat soluble, volatile compound that takes sometimes hundreds of pounds of plant material to produce. Add that to the fact that oil does not disperse in water so that single drop is just floating in the glass and when swallowed it can do more harm than good. That single drop will likely be absorbed into the mucous membranes of the mouth, throat and esophagus, possibly causing irritation and sensitization over time.
There are effective ways to use essential oils internally but ONLY when under the care of a trained aromatherapist with special training on internal use. Not all essential oils are safe to use in this manner which is why it so important to do so under proper care. In most cases they will recommend internal use for riding the body of antibiotic resistant bacterial or viral infections, parasites or worms. Usually the dosage will consist of 1-3 drops, diluted in a suitable carrier and added to a gel capsule, taken for a short period of time. Other more casual methods of internal use may include diluting a drop of essential oil in a dispersant like honey and adding to a tea, or adding a drop of essential oil to a sugar cube and dissolving it into a glass of water. But again, consult a professional before consuming ANY essential oil.
REFERENCES…worth checking out